After a pretty decent meal that was served up with extraordinary efficiency to a room full of hungry theatre goers at the Palais Theatre in Hepburn Springs, we were greeted by an enormous sequined drag queen, Eureka Rice (Luke Tonkin), miming 'Let's get This Party Started'. This was followed by a live song, 'Bring on the Men' from the ultra gorgeous and uber Liza Minnelli doppelganger Nellie Minnelli (Sophie Livitsanis).

It was clear we were in for some fun, and if I was wondering when the ghoulish Halloween elements and the baring of Burlesquey flesh would begin (I was), it was next. Madam Goresky flounced out on stage and showed us exactly how to extract one's breasts from a corset while hiding them under a large piece of satin. She was then followed by an array of witches, vampiresses, devils and zombies, all stripping down to various states of undress.

There is certainly an art to taking ones clothes off. While all the burlesque performers were enjoyable, there was certainly a great deal of variation in their skill, with a noticeable gap between Livitsanis and Tokin and the entire rest of the cast. These two are consummate performers with stunning voices and I did find myself wishing Livitsanis played more of a starring role. Yes, the entire production did come out of her head, but her solo pieces were all show-stoppers that left the audience wanting more. Her angel-to-devil costume changes were an inspired surprise and her breast twirling was, well, gasp-inducing.

There were a few highlights from the other performers. A stripping Marie Antoinette eating cake off her own breasts was one. One half of the boylesque duo Hard Knocks was sensational (this being a case of two Adonises with abs a-rippling, one who can really dance and one who really can't - still, that's what practice is for). Our zombie host did a remarkable job of being everywhere at once, including mopping up fake blood and sponge cake off the stage, while never slipping out of character. I had no idea zombies could be so endearing. The song of the night has to go to Tonkin's drag performance of a mashup of Ghostbusters and ACDC's Thunderstruck. Inspired.

I also got to witness one of the strangest things I've seen on stage: a zombie boylesque performance by Jackerage that featured ballet, popping, stripping, pulling scabs off bare flesh with teeth and finally falling down dead at the end of the song. It was so weird it was almost good.

A Burlesque Halloween Spectacular was a lot of fun. The Rocky Horror sing-along at the end got the already hyped audience up on their feet, and listening to Tonkin rip out 'Sweet Transvestite' live was a treat. Tonkin and Livitsanis are performing again at The Palais in November for A Very Naughty Christmas and I recommend you check them out.

Theatre Burlesque in association with The Palais presents

Venue: The Palais | 111 Main Rd, Hepburn Springs, Victoria
Date: Sat October 27, 2012

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